Playa Trip
wedding portraits

Scott and I went up to the playa to take some actual portraits in our wedding clothes.  All the photos we have at Burning Man are more like snapshots, not real portraits, suitable for framing or wrapping fish...  We wanted to go last month but just didn't make it.  So this weekend, we left around 10:30pm friday, and arrived a little before dawn.

The drive was brutal -- 5.5 hours on as much caffeine as I could stand.  I hadn't eaten much before we left either.  I drove the whole way while Scott napped.  [I wanted it that way since he's been working too hard, and I'd been pushing for this trip since we got back from Burning Man.]  Scott's doctor says there's no correlation with caffeine and RSI, but I disagree, and so does Steph.

The 11 mile entrance [the "official" entrance to Burning Man this year] was a tad wet, and we didn't feel comfortable trying to drive on it, so we went to the 12 mile, which was quite dry.  We parked at the GPS coords of Firetown, where we camped this year, set up the camp in the back of the truck, then tried to catch a little snooze before dawn.    I was exhausted from the drive, shaky, and unable to sleep.

This was when I noticed the "stars" and snapped some pics.

The desert is FUCKING COLD!!!  I'll wager it was in the teens.  We weren't really prepared for such weather.  We brought a bunch of blankets, but being out there in thin silk clothing taking pictures was not fun.  We'd run out, set up the camera and stuff, then run back into the truck with the heat blasting...

There were no clouds, which was a shame for the photos, but it was a devastating clear morning -- the air was utterly still and crystal clear.  We took pictures, not really sure how to pose, just making it up as we went along.  Caught the sunrise, which was gentle in color, and bright in the clear air.  [Scott's camera caught the best shots.  I still need to pick through the digital camera morning shots and see if there's anything worthy of putting up...]

So we took a bunch of pictures, trying not to look like we were in pain and shivering, hands aching. :)  Scott's were worse, since he was dealing with the camera equipment...

Then we set up camp in the back of the truck.  Note to self: always put down a fleece air mattress pad before the sheets, if you want to be able to sleep in the cold.  We wrapped around eachother as tightly as possible -- feet covering eachother's feet -- but to no avail.  We finally slipped between blankets and that shielded us from the cold mattress...

I was still having trouble sleeping, so I finally got up and walked around and ate.

The air was still, and finally warming up some.  There was no breeze at all.  And I was thankful there was no dust blowing around.  The sun was low in the sky for mid-day.

We were, indeed, at our old location!  At least I could find Esplanade by the ruts from watering it during the Event.  I followed it down to where I thought Center Camp ought to be, and found a "road" that I hoped led to the Man.  With my back to the sun, it was very difficult to see any markings, since there's no shadows from that vantage, so the "road" was difficult to follow.  I'd get to a clearing of some kind, and wonder if it was the site of the Man, but I'd look back and the truck looked far too close, so I kept on.

Finally, I did come to a clearing that looked promising.  When I spotted small bits of charred wood, I was pretty certain.  I walked around looking for any signs [and trash] and came across some melted neon.  Yep, no doubt about it.  This was the site of the Man.  I walked around a bit, picking up trash and trinkets [I found only a small handful of MOOP -- Matter Out Of Place -- so cleanup went very well this year!]  Then I walked back to the truck to wake Scott up.

I realized it was 2pm, and the sun was scheduled to set around 4-something, so I was getting nervous.

We ate and wandered around some. We wanted to be sure we were actually at our camp, but had a very hard time finding anything at all! Good job, troops! We did find the shower dump location -- the playa was even shiny on the surface. It looked like it had been wetted, but nothing more. We lit a sage smudge and blessed the site, thanked the playa and Mother Earth for letting us use the area for this event which gives us so much energy and life, we thanked her for taking our waste into her and apologized for any damage we have done. A short, awkward little ceremony, but it needed doing, and we felt better having done it.

By the time we were done, we decided to get gas first, since we weren't sure when Gerlach gas closed, and the trip counter said 116 miles, and Fernley [the nearest all-night gas station] was 106 miles from where we were, and the truck typically gets about 230-250 miles on a tank, and we'd run the heater quite a bit earlier on...  One has to be very careful of one's gas tank on the playa.  And I'd almost thrown a can of gas in the back before I left.  I kick myself for not doing that...

The drive into town and back took about 30-45 minutes, and the shadows from the mountains were starting to stretch across the desert...  I felt like we were chasing the sun...  We made it with time enough left to get set up and take sunset pictures.  But the best light was when the sun had just gone down!

We took a total of 8 rolls of slide film, and I ran out of digital camera space too!  Good stuff!

On the way out, we were looking for a steam vent we'd noticed on the way back into town, and turned off the road at one promising turnoff.  It wasn't it, but turning back onto the pavement, I noticed a strip of light on the horizon.  "Shit, Scott!  The moon!  We've got to stay here and watch this!!"  So we turned off the lights and watched the most spectacular orange moon creep over the horizon!  Stunning!

On the drive home, on 447, there was no possible way I could drive and stay awake, so Scott took over.  I kept falling asleep, but tried to chat and keep Scott awake. We got home a little after midnight -- about 26 hours from when we'd left!

In all, a great trip, but we were both pretty wiped out...

Here's some of the pics I took: